Chicago’s School Closure Is The Largest In American History, Mainly Effects Black & Low Income Neighborhoods
Chicago school officials said Thursday that they plan to close dozens of schools in a bid to improve education and tackle a $1 billion deficit.
The move would shutter 61 school buildings, including 53 underused schools and one program. The cut represents roughly 10% of all elementary school facilities in Chicago Public Schools, the country’s third-largest school district.
CPS currently has 403,000 students, with seats for more than 511,000, and close to 140 of its 681 schools are more than half empty, according to the district. About 30,000 students will be affected by the plan, with about half that number moving into new schools.
According to WBEZ, 87 percent of schools that are being closed or having their buildings vacated are majority African-American. In total, 80 percent of kids affected by closures and other shakeups are black. About 42 percent of CPS students are African-American.
The Chicago Teachers Union opposes the closures, which it says would disproportionately affect African-American students. The union also warns the move would expose students to gang violence and turf wars, an apparent reference to neighborhood loyalties.
“This city cannot destroy that many schools at one time, and we contend that no school should be closed in the city of Chicago. These actions will not only put our students’ safety and academic careers at risk but also further destabilize our neighborhoods,” said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.